New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings
Date and Time: Sunday, January 14, 2018, 4:40 p.m. ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, MN
Opening NFL Odds: Vikings -4, O/U 44.5
Vikings vs. Saints TV Coverage: FOX
It's really hard to login to your top football sportsbook and bet against the Saints at the moment. A ton of public money is going to come in on New Orleans throughout this week, and for good reason.
Drew Brees didn't have the best statistical season of his career, but he really didn't have to. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara shouldered the load on offense, and though the defense wasn't phenomenal, it was upgraded to downright respectable. The only other time that Brees had a ground game and defense this good at the same time, the Saints won the Super Bowl eight years ago.
Last Sunday, Brees didn't have the benefit of a good running attack or great defense. Still, he threw for 378 yards and two touchdowns, and he was clearly the MVP of the game for the hosts.
Minnesota is a different beast than Carolina, though. The Vikings have a far better defense and just as many weapons on the offensive side of the ball.
We're talking about a team that has wins over the Saints, Ravens, Rams and Falcons this year and held the latter two to a combined 16 points in November and December. We're also talking about a team that has conceded a total of 17 points in its last three games combined and has held five of its last seven foes to 10 points or fewer.
Let's not take anything away from Keenum either. He isn't the sexiest quarterback on the block, but he threw for 3,547 yards and 22 touchdowns against just seven picks. Keenum is guiding an offense that ranks No. 11 in total offense and No. 10 in scoring. Those aren't lights out stats, but when you've got the top-ranked defense in the league, an above-average offense looks terrifying.
Betting Trends of Note
For as hard as it is to bet against the Saints, it might be even harder to bet against them on the road.
New Orleans is 6-0 in the playoffs at home since the turn of the century, but over the course of its entire existence, it has just one win on the road (at Philadelphia in the '14 playoffs). The team has been favored or expected to compete on the road before and has come up short, and even this season, it's a team that hasn't won a road game since November 12.
One could point to a road win at Carolina in Week 3 or the blowout win over Buffalo in Week 10 as signs that this team's road fortunes are turning, but the Saints couldn't clinch the NFC South with a win in Tampa in Week 17. Though New Orleans ultimately got the job done when the Falcons beat the Panthers, that still has to be a tremendous concern for bettors.
Saints vs. Vikings Free Picks
For as much as we love the growth of the Saints, we think they're still one year and one or two more pieces on defense away from legitimately contending for a Super Bowl.
The Vikings don't strike us as a team that does anything great, but they do everything well, and their defense is ferocious, if nothing else. Even if games where things aren't going well, Minnesota's defense has come up with some timely stops. Though we think this unit is going to falter just a bit against a high-octane New Orleans offense, it will do enough to put this game away in the fourth quarter.
NFL ATS Pick: Vikings -4 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Vikings 31, Saints 24